Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to North Carolina

  • 03/26/2016 10:50 am in

PHILADELPHIA – Indiana’s season came to an end on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center as the Hoosiers lost to top seeded North Carolina, 101-86.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Tar Heels:

· Hoosiers have no answer for early barrage from UNC: Indiana’s defense won it the regular season Big Ten championship and a round of 32 NCAA tournament game against Kentucky.

In Saturday’s loss, the Hoosiers had no answer defensively for North Carolina, which was not only making its presence felt inside by drawing fouls, but was also knocking down perimeter shots. Was it a matter of Indiana not guarding as well as it should have or was it just North Carolina playing one of its best offensive games of the season? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

It was a bad sign early when Marcus Paige hit his first four 3-point attempts to put Indiana in a major hole. The scouting report going in was that Indiana could live with North Carolina shooting from the perimeter, given its average numbers and desire to get the ball into the paint. But by the time the Tar Heels were done with their first half shooting exhibition (7-of-8 from deep), the game was basically over.

Indiana never got closer than 10 the rest of the way after trailing by 11 at halftime.

“They were too comfortable from the start,” a teary-eyed Nick Zeisloft said in the locker room postgame. “Those 3s, we didn’t expect that right from the beginning with Paige. But he’s a great player and hit some tough ones.”

· The postgame locker room scene was somber: Given the cruelty of how abruptly a season ends in the NCAA tournament, it was no surprise to see Indiana’s players in a state of shock in the aftermath.

But the overriding takeaway from talking to nearly every player on the roster is this: the bonds that have been formed by this group are unlikely to ever be broken.

There were guys giving credit to the play of others for the team’s success this season. There were tears. There was Tom Crean sitting in a chair hugging Thomas Bryant. And there were several mentions of the words “togetherness” and “brothers.”

Those words are often tossed around without much consideration in sports, but were very real with this team. Everyone was truly devastated that the run is over.

“So much has happened this year,” Max Bielfeldt said. “A lot of good stuff. I keep reiterating that this team, although I’ve only been here for eight months, it feels like three years. And in a good way. The bonding that this team has had, everything we’ve been through in coming together and winning the Big Ten, the Sweet Sixteen run, it was awesome.”

· Ferrell’s legacy is cemented: No, he didn’t reach his stated goal of hanging a sixth banner in Assembly Hall.

But the growth that Yogi Ferrell showed from his freshman season to his final game in an IU uniform will never be forgotten. Ferrell’s career has had plenty of twists and turns, but he saved the best for last in leading Indiana to an outright Big Ten title and a run to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Ferrell, who scored 25 points in his final game, grew into a leader and a guy that everyone respected in the locker room. He also grew into a player whose main priority was winning. As a result, he broke records along the way like most career games played in an IU uniform and the school’s all-time assist record.

Just as there will never be another Quinn Buckner, Isiah Thomas or Steve Alford, there will never be another Yogi Ferrell.

“He’s a great asset to this program,” Troy Williams said. “He’s a great person on and off the court. He comes from a great family. He’s meant a lot to this program. He taught me how to keep working and how to have a great mindset towards things. And how to speak up and be a great leader.”

· Not surprisingly, IU players were not ready to talk about their futures: They are questions that have to be asked, but there were no answers for them in the aftermath of the loss to North Carolina.

Several guys on the roster will have NBA decisions to make. There will be plenty of time for those decisions to be made with the new rules that now allow underclassmen to work out for teams and attend the combine before deciding whether to take the leap for the next level.

“I haven’t thought about that,” Thomas Bryant said. “I’m just here for my teammates.”

“We just lost the game,” Troy Williams said. “That’s the only thing that is on my mind right now.”

· A tough ending for Robert Johnson: One of the discussions leading up to Friday was the status of Robert Johnson, who hurt his left ankle in IU’s win against Purdue on Feb. 20 and then injured it again against Kentucky in the round of 32.

Johnson said on Thursday that he wanted to give it a go, but apparently the comfort level of the doctors and training staff wasn’t high enough to clear him. Johnson warmed up pregame and prior to the second half, but never entered the game.

In the aftermath, Johnson was clear that he wanted to be out there.

“I tried to tell the coaches that I was ready, but like I said, it was out of my hands,” Johnson said. “They felt like it wasn’t the best thing for me and decided not to play me.”

Filed to:

  • By the way, Vonleh ranks tenth out 16 players on their roster in minutes played, (he is 200 minutes behind the 9th place guy).. so if he’s, starting some of the time, he’s not staying in there that long. He is hitting 45% of his two pointers (he has 98 2pts), and 24% of his threes (he has 10, 3pts), is eighth in blocked shots, 11th in assists and 9th in steals. He is however 2nd youngest on their roster.. so hopefully that may help him.

  • BL

    JN is very similar to YF. Very good handles, athletic, quick and longer (not uncommon to see him dunk the ball in games). A little more slight of frame when he played at Pitt but having worked with Anderson for quite awhile, I’m betting he’ll be chiseled when we first see him in uniform. If his leg injury is truly behind him, he’ll be just what the doctor ordered when we begin tipping it without YF.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I saw his stats and I saw his minutes played and I know his age…my main point is that your original comment (that in a year or two he’d be in the D-League or in Europe or not even playing at all) was hyperbole, in my opinion. It appears unlikely that he will ever be a star but I think is a long, long way from being shuttled out of the game entirely.

    It’s a topic not worth going back and forth over though and I doubt that Noah Vonleh’s experience(s) will have any impact on the decisions of Troy Williams or Thomas Bryant, have a nice day.

  • BL

    NV is starting for Portland.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Very similar to Yogi? We can hope but his previous offensive history suggests otherwise. He’s yet to average more than 5.9 points per game and he made less than one three pointer per game. I imagine there will be some significant growth in the shooting department thanks to Tim Buckley and the rest of the staff but if we are expecting to be “very similar” to Yogi Ferrell, one of the best point guards we’ve ever had at IU, well, I think don’t think those expectations are fair for him at the start of the season.

    I believe he’ll be a very good player for us but I don’t think it’s entirely realistic to expect there won’t be a drop off at point guard.

  • BL

    Didn’t see your comment but agree. NV signed a GUARANTEED three year contract for nearly $8 million. If he’s my kid, no way I tell him to return to college and risk injury. Definitely don’t like these one-and-done rules but until they change, kids and their families will continue following the money and rightfully so.

  • Not really… He ranks 10th out of 16 roster spots in minutes played. He starts when someone else can’t go.

  • BL

    Good points but I’m relying on his pre-colllege video and his freshman season at Pitt because he was operating on a bad wheel the last half of his sophomore season. During his freshman season, he averaged 17 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 1.7 APG, 46%FG (43% from three) on a good Pitt team that finished 5th in the ACC. Compare that to YF’s freshman season where he averaged 28 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 4 APG, 40%FG (30% from three). Appears to me JN would have posted comparable numbers to YF if he’d played as many minutes and as a freshman, his shooting stats were clearly superior. Proof will be in the pudding but I like this kid’s chances.

  • twarrior87

    Seeing teams like Syracuse and ND in the Elite Eight just makes me more ticked off that IU can never get past the Sweet 16. I for one am tired of “Sweet 16 runs.”

  • twarrior87

    so, just keep him on… no need for an extension, right? just like there’s no better coach out there there’s also no better job out there.

  • twarrior87

    this is why i hate the fact IU can’t get past the Sweet 16… crappier teams can do it… and i know IU had a rough road to the final 4 this year, but what about two years ago when we were a much better team than SU and still couldn’t get past the sweet 16.

  • Jim Miller

    I have thought TW was ready to leave ever since he did the eyeroll last year at the foul line when he saw someone was waiting at the scorers table to come in for him. Then he stayed this year because someone in the Pros told him to work on his game some more. I dont get the feeling he is going to listen this year.

  • BL

    Ken, he began starting in November so season minutes played is not a meaningful stat. Notwithstanding, I have no way of knowing if NV will become an NBA mainstay or not. I was just confirming, he’s not currently in the D league and is playing on an NBA roster. Frankly, I think most college fans are being unrealistic thinking kids that are first round locks are going to return to school. The money is simply to big to turn down. They can always go back and get an education. Also, I honestly can’t say whether a kid will develop better in college or the D league. Current system stinks, but no way would I have recommended to NV that he return to IU for one more year and risk losing an $8 million guaranteed contract due to a career ending injury.

  • BL

    IMO, if they tell him he’s 2nd round but that could improve next year, he may stay. If any NBA people tell him he might see the first round, he’ll be gone.

  • BL

    I actually get that logic but in the end, I think TB will do what’s best for him. If he’s not projected top 20, I think he returns for one more year.

  • IUMIKE1

    No disrespect to Hartman but if Troy leaves and Thomas stays it should be him Davis and OG starting together and Hartman coming off the bench

  • IUMIKE1

    Thomas Bryant has been showing as a mid 2 later first round pick on several mock drafts that have been compiled later in the season

  • Bud Jenkins

    could very well be, but imho, crean is a chess player, he knows how to push people out the door in win-win situations, (i.e. kenny johnson who was the recruiting coordinator for some questionable recruits). He’ll be on the horn to everyone he knows trying to get TW some good looks by NBA folks… while at the same time (and rightfully so) nudging TB to stay. If you don’t think head coaches are master manipulators, you don’t know coaching…

  • My only point is, that unless they are a first round lock, where they can get guaranteed money, and if family needs require it, another year may really make sense. Many times these guys make the jump when they are not ready.. and end up bouncing around a few years in the NBA, then disappear, never to be heard from again. I think NV was not nearly as good,a least offensively, as TB.. But I really don’t think TB is ready.. I don’t know nearly as much about it as a NBA scout that will advise him.. But just from the eye test, he’s not. I’m thinking the closest to a guaranteed first rounder that we have is Yogi.. and with him there isn’t a choice, he has to try. When you look at the college landscape though, you can see quite a few players. at least 25 that at this point in their career, appear to be more NBA ready, than TW or TB. I guess we shall see what happens. Do you have any feel for TB’s family situation? Are they pretty much in need of him being a pay check? I’m thinking in the case of TW there may be a lot of pressure from the family to jump ship and try to get some $$.

  • I am also of that opinion.. It’ll be very interesting, if he goes, where he gets drafted.

  • Koko

    The new rule will give any player good looks by the NBA folks. I may not know coaching but does it not take a lot off a coaches plate by having them declare with no agent? As TC said the new rule gives a player true information from the source. As far as being on the horn for TW, that really doesn’t need to be done….have him declare with no agent and go to the combine. I think the new rule gives coaches more time to concentrate on recruiting.

  • Koko

    They were shooting lights out because of bad defense. I can get a mental picture of three different times where they pumped in a three from a corner with no one on them. If you are saying we allowed them 1.42 ppp because they are a great team then I would say your viewpoint is equally as absurd. And why would such a great team allow us 1.21 ppp? They should have beat us by 25-30 points.
    They are good because they have horses on the bench. That is what makes them hard to beat. They wear teams down…including us. I guess we should have consulted Northern Iowa before we set up our game plan.

  • Koko

    Yes I forgot about Cody.

  • PreKnight

    There are a lot of teams out there this year that are saying that they are better than Syracuse, but guess what, Syracuse is in the FF as a #10 seed.

  • And One

    I believe you are right, and I don’t know if anyone knows what it’s going to look like. It will be interesting to see.

  • Fivelefts

    Oladipo, will see his second big contract! Not sure if it will be in Orlando..but I think he has played himself into a fairly comfortable place. I agree, TB should test the waters, but tread lightly! I think Troy should use his last year of eligibility as well..IMO

  • Fivelefts

    Yeah.. he would be doing himself a service, if he came back.. His game really needs it! And I think he responds to player development well, in his current environment, as a member of this team..